“I want to be a drummer!” This is one of those moments when you’re unable to look at your kid just in case they spot the panic in your eyes. While the alarm bells ring, you let out the internal scream…
‘WHHHHYYYYYEEEE??! What’s wrong with being a pianist or a guitarist? What about the triangle?’
If you put kids and a drum kit in the same room, it means a lot of noise, takes up a lot of space, and costs a lot of money. But what if you’ve spawned the next revolution in drumming? What gives you the right to squish that dream before it even gets a chance to glimpse daylight? Some of the answers are best left to your therapist, but what this blog can offer is a little sweet reassurance, because the truth is, drum kits don’t have to be loud, they don’t have to be expensive, and they don’t have to be all that big.
- Do They Need a Drum Kit or Will One Drum Do?
- Mini-Kit or Entry-Level Kit?
- What About the Neighbours?
- What About an Electronic Drum Kit?
- Buyer’s Guides
- See also…
Do They Need a Drum Kit or Will One Drum Do?
The best question you can ask yourself first is: what exactly do we need? If your kid wants to start drumming, there are a few directions you can go in, and to figure out which one will work, it’s best to simply ask your kid what they want. Do they see themselves sitting behind a full drum kit or do they just want a drum? If they just want a drum, you could consider kitting them out with a marching snare drum and a pair of marching drumsticks. If they do want a full drum kit, then you can look at kits that have been specially designed for children. These mini-kits are usually divided into age ranges so you can find something that matches your kid’s age and height, and if they stick with it, and if they outgrow their mini-kit, you can then think about looking at an entry-level drum kit. In general, entry-level drum kits are not only better quality, but are more ergonomic, and you want your child to be able to play in comfort since the drums can be a physically demanding instrument.
Mini-Kit or Entry-Level Kit?
If your kid has admitted that they do want a full drum kit, then you need to figure out if they need a mini drum kit that’s designed for children or an entry-level, starter kit. Children’s kits are perfect for kids aged around 3 to 10 years old, while starter kits are perhaps more appropriate for teenagers. But, if your child has just turned 9, then it’s probably safer to invest in a starter kit so they’re all set for a few years to come. The Ludwig Questlove Series includes some really good children’s drum kits that come with a set of cymbals, stands, a bass drum pedal, a drum stool, a pair of sticks and a drum tuning key. A great example of a starter kit is the Fazley Spirit Basic, which is fully set up for any beginner drummer, no matter their age, but the height of the stands can easily be adjusted for a ten-year-old. As your child grows, and their skills grow alongside them, they might want to step up to a more expensive drum kit, but in the beginning, this kind of kit is perfect. Like the Questlove kits, the Fazley Spirit Basic comes with a cymbal pack, a set of stands, a bass drum pedal, drum stool, and a pair of drumsticks. Tip: While the Fazley Spirit Basic kit is definitely a safe start for beginner drummers, you might want something with a more mature sound, in which case you could look at the Fazley Spirit Plus. The drumheads and cymbals have a better sound and you get a separate crash and ride instead of a single crash/ride. But there’s no rush, since the Spirit Basic can be upgraded to the same level as the Plus at any time.
What About the Neighbours?
Of course, most people don’t have the luxury of being able to make a load of noise all night, or even all day for that matter, because they fear the wrath of their neighbours. So how can you keep your neighbours sweet? Luckily, there are special drum mats (see above) or mesh heads you can get that have been designed to lower the volume of a drum kit. The benefit of using a set of drum mats is that you just lay them on the cymbals and drums. So, if your kid already aspires to join a band, then drum mats are probably the best choice since you can just put them on and take them off whenever you want. Just be aware that drum mats can shift about a bit while you’re playing, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping yourself in the neighbours’ good books. So what about mesh heads? These are a step further down in terms of volume, and are basically drumheads made of a mesh material that’s far quieter when struck, have more a natural playing feel than mats, and since they’re fitted, don’t slide around while you’re playing. But, since you have to remove your original drumheads and replace them with mesh heads every time you want to practise at a more sociable volume, they’re a little more labour intensive. Whether you’re picking out mesh heads or drum mats, you do need to take note of the size of your drums, which is indicated in inches. So, if your kid has a 14 inch snare, then you’ll need to get a 14 inch drum mat or mesh head so you know it will fit. Want to know more? See our other blog: 5 Tips to Keep Drum Noise to a Minimum
What About an Electronic Drum Kit?
I can’t say in all good conscience that an electronic drum kit is the best starting point, because as a drummer myself, I’ve had some negative experiences with them. But an electronic kit is definitely an option. Why do I hesitate? Well, when you’re learning to play a ‘real’ drum kit, you’re learning to play the drums ‘as they should be’. Acoustic drums have a more natural feel than most budget or even intermediate electronic kits, and when you’re playing without drum mats or mesh heads, you get to know the dynamics of the drums – meaning, the difference in sound when you strike harder or softer, and the difference in sound depending on where you strike the drumheads or cymbals. Ultimately, playing a cheap acoustic kit will be more helpful for developing technique than playing an electronic drum kit, so if you start learning to play with an electronic kit, then you’re in danger of learning the incorrect technique. With cheaper electronic drum kits, for example, no matter how hard you strike a drum pad you’ll get the same volume level. So, I tend to recommend starting with an acoustic kit so that kids can gain a better understanding of what a drum kit can do and develop an immediate awareness of the effect of how they hit the drums, which will only lead to better technique. But, if you would really prefer to go down the electronic route, then you can start with a budget model that includes the essentials: a kick drum, a hi-hat, snare drum, three toms and two cymbals. Sometimes, you’ll need to pick up a bass drum pedal separately. Of course, the advantages of going for an electronic drum kit are obvious: you can plug in a set of headphones so they’re much quieter and your kid can practise almost any time they want. Many (if not all) kits also include a built-in metronome and an input so you can play along to your favourite tracks and learn to keep time. And, you often get treated to a vast array of different drum sounds. For more on the differences see our blog: Acoustic vs. Electronic Drum Kits
I hope that by reading this, things have been made a little bit clearer. While the world of drumming is an awesome place, if you’ve never been there, it can seem a bit daunting. If you still have any doubts, or you’re still not sure what you’ll need or which of the many available options is best, then feel free to dip into our dedicated, and very informative Drum Kit Buyers Guide, and Electronic Drum Kit Buyer’s Guide.
» What’s the Best Drum Kit for Me?
» What’s the Best Electronic Drum Kit for Me?
» Your Kid’s First DJ Set
» Drumsticks for an Electronic Kit: Which Ones Do You Need?
» Acoustic vs. Electronic Drum Kits
» The History of the Drum Kit
» The Four Most Important Drum Rhythms
» What do you need for drumming?
» How do I become a drummer?
» 5 Tips To Keep Drum Noise To A Minimum